|Title:||Flowers of the Forest
|Description:||Flowers of the Forest by John Buckstone. Cynthia (left) is played by Céline Céleste, Lemuel Sarah Jane Woolgar, and Starlight Bess (right) by Fanny Fitzwilliam.
|1st Performance:||Mar 11, 1847
|Source:||The Illustrated London News, Apr 10, 1847
|See Source:||Go to Source Images (1.0 MB)
|Review:||The Illustrated London News, Apr 10, 1847,
The Flowers of the Forest 
See: Item 23: Scene from Buckstone, The Flowers of the Forest 
John Baldwin Buckstone (1802–79) was a comedian and writer of farces with a
secondary line in melodrama. The Flowers of the Forest,
one of his best known melodramas, premiered at the Adelphi Theatre in
1847. It turns on the trial of an innocent gentleman, Alfred, for a
murder that was really committed by a Gypsy boy, Lemuel.
In this climactic scene from the third Act, two young women
struggle for control of Lemuel’s person. Cynthia (left), an Italian
Gypsy who harbours a selfless love for Alfred, has just dragged Lemuel
out of his tent: "Come away — you shall, and prevent the
shedding of innocent blood!" But Starlight Bess (right), who is
Lemuel’s lover, is determined to save him from the gallows; she shrieks
at Cynthia: "Let him be! Take off your hold! What if he did
do what he says; we care for none beyond our own people!" Lemuel
himself vacillates between honor and self-preservation. "Bess, save
me!" he wails feebly. Cynthia taunts him: "You cannot move! Your
guilt makes you as weak as a child." Agitated action music is heard
throughout the scene.
All three parts were played by women in the first production:
Cynthia by Céline Céleste (1810/11–82), a French actress who made her
career in Britain; Bess by Fanny Elizabeth Fitzwilliam (1801–54); and
Lemuel by Sarah Jane Woolgar (1824–1909). Dickens spoke of Woolgar’s
performance as the "the most remarkable and complete piece of
melodrama" he had seen. N.T.